Saturday, November 24, 2012

Writing Real

My friend Joe Ponepinto said something to me last week which has stuck with me, "Stewart, why don't you try writing memoir?"

In the last few days, as I've struggled with a short story I'm working on, I've paused and tried to imagine what I could write about which wouldn't A) get me in trouble with someone either emotionally, or legally, and B) would be interesting enough for someone to invest in as a reader.

It occurred to me that I've written many revealing things on this blog. I've written some stuff about teaching and some stuff about my relationship with my parents and family. I've expressed outrage and joy and shaken my fist at the wind. But the blog isn't really memoir is it? The blog is five hundred words of anecdote masquerading as something of substance. Before someone can really open up (someone who isn't entirely crazy), the space element and the possibility of immediate and public comment shuts down real disclosure.

Still, since all writing is somewhat autobiographical in that it draws upon some level of prior experience regardless of the content, why not do memoir? I've worked as a movie critic, as a social worker, as a teacher. I've run for public office and engaged in glorious public stupidity.

Now, I just need to own it and find in my life the elements that make my fictional characters and the things they do interesting.


Charles Gramlich said...

Days of beer was my entry into memoir. I really enjoyed it.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Charles, what was it about the memoir writing process that you enjoyed?

stu said...

It's one of those things that can be hugely rewarding to do, but isn't terribly commercial. As a ghostwriter, when I'm helping people with memoirs, I always try to make the point that unless their circumstances are something truly exceptional, then it's probably the name on the front selling the work.